narwhal (n.)

"sea-unicorn, dolphin-like sea mammal" (one of the teeth of the male is enormously developed into a straight spirally fluted tusk), 1650s, from Danish and Norwegian narhval, probably a metathesis of Old Norse nahvalr, literally "corpse-whale," from na "corpse" + hvalr "whale" (see whale). Supposedly so called from resemblance of its whitish color to that of dead bodies. The first element would be from PIE *nau- (1) "death; to be exhausted" (source also of Old English ne, neo, Gothic naus "corpse," Old Cornish naun, Old Church Slavonic navi, Old Prussian nowis "corpse," Lettish nawe "death," Lithuanian novyti "to torture, kill").

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